United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. Payne United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Armor Correctional Health Services,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended
Petition (Doc. No. 11). After consideration of the briefs,
and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss is DENIED.
Catherine Lee Freeman (“Plaintiff”) filed this
action to recover against the defendants for alleged
violations of the Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution. Plaintiff also brings state law
tort claims for negligence, a claim pursuant to the Oklahoma
Constitution, and a claim for punitive damages. The First
Amended Petition names as defendants (1) Stanley Glanz, in
his individual capacity, (2) Tulsa County Sheriff Vic
Regalado, in his official capacity, (3) Armor Correctional
Health Services, Inc., (“Armor”) and (4) American
Medical Response Ambulance Service, Inc. (Doc. No. 3-3).
to the First Amended Petition, on September 15, 2014,
Plaintiff was sentenced in Tulsa County District Court to a
three-year prison term for Driving Under the Influence, and
she was taken into custody on that day. (Doc. No. 3-3,
¶¶ 21-22). Plaintiff was transported to the Tulsa
County Jail to await transfer to the Oklahoma Department of
Corrections. (Id. ¶ 22). When Plaintiff was
taken into custody, she was taking prescribed Lexapro and
Valium for anxiety and depression, and Percocet and Extended
Release Morphine for pain. (Id. ¶ 23). However,
Plaintiff did not have these prescription medications with
her when she was taken into custody, and she was not allowed
to have her prescription medications brought to her.
(Id. ¶ 24).
arrival at the Tulsa County Jail, Plaintiff told the jail and
medical personnel that she was on these medications and
needed to keep taking them; otherwise she risked withdrawal
complications, including seizures and suicidal thoughts.
(Id. ¶¶ 25-29). Plaintiff repeatedly
notified the Tulsa County Jail through the kiosk system of
her needs regarding her medications. (Id. ¶
27). Because of the risk to Plaintiff of suicidal thoughts
from medication withdrawal, Plaintiff was placed on
“suicide watch” for a period of time.
(Id. ¶¶ 30-32). However, jail and medical
staff otherwise “failed and/or refused to address
Plaintiff's medical needs regarding her withdrawal
symptoms.” (Id. ¶ 33).
September and early October, Plaintiff began having seizures,
which “[j]ail and/or medical personnel did not properly
and effectively medically treat.” (Id. ¶
34). Plaintiff's seizures increased in length, and
Plaintiff was taken to the medical unit, although the jail
and/or medical personnel still did not properly and
effectively treat Plaintiff for her seizures. (Id.
¶ 35). On October 4, 2014, Plaintiff had a seizure that
lasted longer than ten minutes. (Id. ¶ 36). At
that point, jail and/or medical personnel called for an
ambulance to take Plaintiff to the hospital. (Id.).
By the time the ambulance arrived, Plaintiff was already
turning blue from lack of oxygen and in dire need of
immediate care. (Id. ¶ 37). As a result of the
ambulance personnel's alleged negligence, Plaintiff
suffered further serious injury. (Id. ¶¶
39-49). Plaintiff had to be placed on a ventilator, had
emergency surgery to repair a torn esophagus, needed a
feeding tube, and suffered an anoxic brain injury.
(Id. ¶¶ 44-49). When Plaintiff was
returned to the Tulsa County Jail on a feeding tube,
Armor's employees and agents were not equipped to handle
her needs, and she was further harmed from inadequate medical
care at their hands. (Id. ¶¶ 52-53).
asserts a total of nine causes of action against four
defendants. Relevant to Armor's Motion to Dismiss,
Plaintiff seeks: (1) relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Armor for cruel and unusual punishment in violation
of Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, by being
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs, health, and safety (Count VII); (2) recovery against
Armor for negligence in failing to provide adequate or timely
evaluation and treatment of Plaintiff and in failing to
reasonably or timely treat Plaintiff's serious medical
condition (Count II); and (3) recovery against Armor for
negligent hiring, training, and supervision of its agents and
employees (Count V) (Id. ¶¶ 85-93,
108-113, 136-145). Plaintiff seeks damages for her injuries
and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages against
Armor has now filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
claims against it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which any relief
can be granted as a matter of law.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept all
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true, and must
construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Anderson v. Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith,
Inc., 521 F.3d 1278, 1284 (10th Cir. 2008). To withstand
a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain enough
allegations of fact “to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Tenth Circuit has
stated that “plausibility” in this context refers
“to the scope of the allegations in the complaint: if
they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of
conduct, much of it innocent, then the plaintiffs ‘have
not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.'” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d
1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 569). The plaintiff bears the burden to frame
“a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true)
to suggest” that he or she is entitled to relief.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. “A pleading that
offers ‘labels and conclusions' or a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual
enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555,
42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim Against Armor
Constitutional Violation - Deliberate Indifference
Armor contends that Plaintiff fails to plead sufficient facts
to show that Armor was deliberately indifferent to her
serious medical needs in denying her adequate medical care
while she was incarcerated. Section 1983 provides a claim for
relief against state actors for violation of a
plaintiff's federal rights. Becker v. Kroll, 494
F.3d 904, 914 (10th Cir. 2007). Under the Eighth Amendment,
prisoners have a constitutional right to medical care, which
is violated when doctors or prison officials are deliberately
indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976). The
Tenth Circuit recognizes two types of conduct amounting to
deliberate indifference in the context of prisoner medical
care. “First, a medical professional may fail to treat
a serious medical condition properly.” Sealock v.
Colorado, 218 F.3d 1205, 1211 (10th Cir. 2000). When
this type of conduct is alleged, “the medical
professional has available the defense that he was merely
negligent in diagnosing or treating the medical condition,
rather than deliberately indifferent.” Id.
(citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06). Second, prison
officials may “prevent an inmate from receiving
treatment or deny him access to medical personnel capable of
evaluating the need for treatment.” Id.
(citing Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 575 (10th Cir.
1980)). A prison medical professional, such as a booking
nurse, who serves solely “as a gatekeeper for other
medical personnel capable of treating the condition”
may be liable under this standard if he or she “delays
or refuses to fulfill that gatekeeper role due to deliberate
indifference “involves both an objective and a
subjective component.” Olsen v. Layton Hills
Mall, 312 F.3d 1304, 1315 (10th Cir. 2002) (citing
Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1209). To satisfy the objective
component, “the alleged deprivation must be
‘sufficiently serious' to constitute a deprivation
of constitutional dimension.” Self v. Crum,
439 F.3d 1227, 1230 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). “A medical
need is sufficiently serious ‘if it is one that has
been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one
that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's
attention.'” Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1209
(quoting Hunt v. Uphoff,199 F.3d 1220, 1224 (10th
Cir.1999)). The question raised by the objective ...